What’s in a name?

At some point growing up I realized that names, like all words had meaning……that, when translated from their native language, were labels that “meant something”…..I learned that my surname “Eisenhart” was a German expression that meant “as hard as iron”…..which I suppose not quite as cool as “as hard as osmium” (the hardest element on earth), and certainly leaving the door open to any number of jokes (hard-headed only scratching the surface)……yet always seemed cool enough to me…….eventually, no doubt through the misguided (often testosterone driven) thought processes of male adolescence, it became my self-label, the proverbial chip (on my shoulder), a strong driver for me to work harder (bordering the level of  “a-holism” at times, which of course is totally different than “a-hole-ism”, something WE ALL occasionally suffer from), to prove, mostly to myself, that I could be tougher and go bigger in whatever endeavor I chose.  

Sports was the obvious outlet for this kind of energy, and by age 11, I realized the joys of mind-jarring and limb-bending athletic pursuits….football and wrestling seemed a natural fit and after a lifetime affair with baseball was replaced by the speed and intensity of lacrosse life was in balance…..a balance that was thrown off as I made my way to UCONN……thankfully, the internal dialog was short:

“What, no wrestling team?…….Not to worry, they have RUGBY 

…and there was nothing quite like this “hooligans game played by gentleman” to keep the chip ground down and life in balance…….but shortly after graduation, despite the occasional summer tourneys with the old boys, there was the real-world: a new business venture to put heart and soul into, a new family to chase and plenty of other things to compete for time………unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried to ignore it, the little chip started growing back, the scales tipped and a voice questioning whether this was truly the life of a person “as hard as Iron” was back and loud….and then the “everybody wins” situation presented itself…..

“why not do a marathon”

….despite my total distaste for this “sport” (after all, isn’t running just punishment?)……a marathon held special allure, most certainly from childhood.  Watching my Dad complete the (now ING) Orange Bowl marathon a couple of times in the days of warrior runners (before the days of GU, good hydration products, dry-fit clothing or even “good” shoes) was family legend…..from the bitter defeat of a body shutting down and the ensuing DNF to the glory of a personal best and a “sub” finish…..it made total sense to challenge the family to take part in just one more…..and what better time than Dad’s birthday dinner…..the old “if you do it, I’ll do it” announcement and a healthy dose of I’m not going to back down bravado (this was my first race of any distance, ever) and the stage was set.  A great way to grind down that chip and what turned out to be a great way to restore balance…..what it lacked in contact, it made up for in learning…..I did not meet my goal that day and I continue to learn…..

“Ready to give up yet stupid?…..nope, not just yet”

Sometime in there at Pro-Activity, we were creating our first version of an endurance club, Pro-Activity Conditioning and Endurance Racing (PACER) where bigger achievements deserved bigger recognition (stolen right from the world of martial arts)….Sure I had achieved my “PACER Black” for completing the marathons, but there were still bronze (which I missed, quite literally, by seconds in Philly) and silver (doable, but a stretch) as well as gold and platinum…..both of which seemed out of reach….and then there was the ultimate achievement…..the RED (short for, you guessed it, RED-iculous)…..a very simple statement of what it would take for someone to achieve it……basically a world-class performance……perfect timing indeed, why not bake the marathon right into an even bigger goal……to live up to the name…..to be, even for a moment, “Eisenhart”……why not go after the only endurance event that claimed to be exactly that, as hard as iron.  140.6 miles of grueling effort….the IRONMAN……oh, but an IRONMAN completion achieves merely a platinum on the PACER wall…..so if you’re going to go, why not go big? Why not shoot for a KONA Slot.  Now THAT would require a RED-iculous effort.

And so, what’s in a name?  I felt it only appropriate, to give this blog a title befitting of the chip that got me here……a question that I’ll no doubt wrestle with for the next 20 weeks……one that I will answer sometime after May 7, 2011 but only for myself….you’re welcome to answer it as often as you like….I love encouragement and I’ve proven myself too dumb to be discouraged very long….so have at it.  

I make only 1 promise…..I will make this part of my training effort as often as I can. I will capture my thoughts before, during and after the training sessions that are sure to either make or break this effort…..so if you ever wanted to be a fly on the mind of someone chasing something that is likely out of reach from the start…..but never out of reach entirely…..follow this….I hope you enjoy the ride.

With something to prove, 

Mike E.

One comment

  • OK, Wow! We’re behind you 100%. And we’ll be there along side when you need it… and even sometimes in front if you need a mental tug boat! 20 weeks and counting. You can do it, there’s not a shred of doubt in my mind!